Victoria’s latest (fourth) hard lockdown was caused by two separate hotel quarantine breaches:
- One in Adelaide whereby a returned traveller then carrying the virus into Victoria and the Novotel Ibis breach; and
- The Novotel Ibis breach, which was traced to a returned traveller who arrived from Sri Lanka on 8 May and tested positive for the virus on the same day.
Now the economic cost of the lockdown has been revealed at $1.3 billion by Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas: $700 million over the fist week and $600 million over the second.
If Sydney heads into lockdown, as many expect, it will experience similar economic costs.
Melbourne’s lockdown highlights, yet again, why quarantine must be moved out of densely packed city hotels into sparse open-air mining-style camps located away from the cities. Hotels are ideal for spreading the virus due to the close proximity of guests/staff, shared ventilation and shared corridors.
The costs to the economy and livelihoods from lockdowns are massive – literally billions of dollars – and would be avoided altogether by safe national quarantine facilities modelled on Howard Springs near Darwin.
Investing in safe quarantine facilities would be money well spent, especially given this is unlikely to be the last global pandemic.